Saturday, December 8, 2018

A time of reflection in a season of hope

Over the last two months, members of the Idlewild PNC have spoken with a number of well-qualified and impressive ministers of the Gospel. We are grateful to God for the ministries of each of those with whom we have spoken, and we ask that the Church remember them in prayer. Regardless of whether we have spoken with the next Head of Staff for Idlewild, we have been excited to experience and see the work of God being accomplished in communities across the country through God's ministers. Truly has the Lord poured out blessings on the PC(USA)!

The PNC is currently in a time of reflection and discernment. We have had conversations, listened to sermons, and researched candidate ministers, but we know our task has only just begun. Difficult decisions loom, but so does hope for the future of Idlewild. How fitting that we approach this hope, then, in the season of Advent as we profess hope for the blessing of peace through Christ. We are inspired by this excerpt from the Companion to the Book of Common Worship (Geneva Press, 2003, 96):
In Advent we expectantly wait for the One who has already come. We anticipate the promised justice of God’s new world, yet we praise God who raised the “righteous branch” to rule with justice and righteousness. We hope for the restoration of the afflicted, the tormented, and the grieving, yet we delight that healing has come in Christ. We long for the beating of swords into plowshares, yet we rejoice that the Prince of Peace has appeared. We yearn for the barren deserts of our inner cities to flourish, yet we laud the desert Rose that has bloomed. We dream of the land where lions and lambs live in harmony, yet we acclaim the child born to lead us into the promised land. 
As always, do not hesitate to contact any member of the PNC with a suggestion or request. We are grateful for our engaged and thoughtful congregation! Our email addresses are linked below, along with a short bio about each of our members. You can also reach us collectively by e-mailing us at

Jeanne Marie Cummings
Jeanne Marie Cummings is a lifelong Memphian and a child of Idlewild Presbyterian Church. She is the daughter of Lee and Lucy Cummings and the older sister of DC Cummings. She works for Welcome To Memphis, the training subsidiary of Memphis Tourism and is the President of the Kemmons Wilson School Alumni Chapter at the University of Memphis. Jeanne Marie is also involved with Pinecrest Conference and Retreat Center leading ropes courses when needed and leading recreation at Presbyterian Youth Conference every year.

Albert Johnson
Albert Johnson has been a lifelong member of the church and grew up in the recreation department. He has coached various sports and put on numerous basketball camps in the past. He recently served as the chair of the house and properties committee. His grandfather was an associate pastor at Idlewild in the 1960s and his mother and late father have been longtime members. Albert is married to his wife of 10 years, Trinh Johnson, and has two children: Levi (9) and Beklin (7). Albert works for local civil construction company, VuCon, as a Project Manager.

Julie Markham
Dr. Julie Markham was born and raised in Virginia, trained as a neuroscientist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and was an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore before her husband Brent’s job at St. Jude brought them to Memphis in 2012. She planned a brief hiatus from her career to accommodate the move, which turned out to be so delightful and fulfilling that she decided not to run from happiness; six years later she continues to embrace life as a self-styled “family manager”. This shift has allowed her to be more present in the lives of their boys Aiden and Miles, now 11 and 7, and also to become engaged in the life of their faith community at Idlewild. Julie was ordained as a deacon in 2016, and has enjoyed facilitating Lenten Lectionary small groups, leading workshops on prayer practices, serving on the planning committee for a Sunday school class (Faith and Function: Ancient Texts and Today’s Questions), and chairing the Congregational Care Committee.

Cindy Moore
Cindy Moore is long time member of Idlewild. She has served on various committees in the church, and she has served as both a deacon and an elder. Cindy was Idlewild's director of Outreach Ministry in the 1990s. She is now the director of development at MIFA. She and her husband, Scott, have two daughters, Isabelle and Lucy.

Mitchell Redd
Mitchell and Mary Katherine Redd joined Idlewild in August 2000. He is currently a member of the Budget & Finance Committee as well as Chair of the Administration Ministry Unit. He previously served on the Stewardship Committee and the Board of the Children’s Center/Kindergarten as well as both a deacon and an elder. He has three children – Josephine, Katherine and John – all of whom were baptized at Idlewild. The girls are in their senior and sophomore years at Hutchison School and John is in 6th grade at Presbyterian Day School. Mitchell is a Senior Vice President for FTN Financial Capital Assets, a loan trading and advisory subsidiary of First Tennessee Bank.

Betty Louis Sheppard (chair)
Betty Louis Sheppard moved to Memphis in 2002. After many years in the Mid-South Presbytery, she knew that Idlewild with its traditions of fine preaching, community outreach, and commitment to the PC(USA) would be her home. Her primary interest in church life is worship and music, which is where the congregation gathers together to prepare and be inspired to live as daily Christians. Music as an integral part of worship gives voice to faith through the singing of hymns, psalms, and liturgy. Betty Louis have four children who grew up in the Church, all of whom are grown with families of their own. She is fortunate to have one daughter as a member of Idlewild, along with a son-in-law and their two children.

Jeremy Sykes
Jeremy Sykes is a lifelong Memphian with deep roots, both family and professional, in the area. He is a graduate of Rhodes College and the University of Memphis' Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. He and his family joined Idlewild in 2015. Jeremy is married to Jenna. Their twins, Eden and Reid, are first graders. Jeremy is self-employed as an immigration attorney in private practice and serves as a volunteer youth soccer coach. He previously served as an immigration adviser to the Office of Multicultural and Religious Affairs for former Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton.

Jeff Thompson
Jeff Thompson has been a member of Idlewild for more than forty years. He has served two terms each as a deacon and an elder and has served on various committees of the church. He is married to Nancy, and they have three adult children. Jeff is in the private practice of law.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Frequently Asked Questions

Will our associate ministers be required to resign when a new pastor is called?
No. Our associates are called to their positions at Idlewild. They are free to make their own choices with regard to their futures at Idlewild.

Will there be an interim minister?
The Pastor Nominating Committee has been charged with seeking a new Head of Staff for Idlewild. We are focusing on this goal. The question of whether to call an interim minister during the transition period is outside the scope of our charge.

What are these acronyms we keep hearing?
PNC - Pastor Nominating Committee
CLC - Church Leadership Connection. The PC(USA)'s online matching system which endeavors to match candidates to open jobs in the denomination.
MIF - Ministry Information Form. The PC(USA)'s version of a job advertisement. Ours has been posted in the CLC since September after approval by the Session and Presbytery.
PIF - Personal (or Pastor) Information Form. Function as both resumes and job applications for potential candidates. The PNC receives PIFs in response to our MIF which is posted on the CLC.

How is the position being advertised?
Our Ministry Information Form was posted on the PC(USA)'s electronic matching system in September. You can read the Idlewild MIF here. We have also spoken with PC(USA) leaders, pastors, and contacts in affiliated seminaries for direction and suggestions regarding our next Head of Staff. Finally, we sincerely appreciate the suggestions we have received from members of our congregation, and we welcome further suggestions.

Have you spoken with potential candidates?
Yes. As of late October, we are in the process of reaching out to and speaking with potential candidates.

....can you tell us about the candidates?!?
With apologies, no. Among other reasons, the PNC must maintain confidentiality to avoid impacting the candidates' relationships with their congregations. This does not mean that we will tell you nothing, however. We represent you, and we intend to continue to update you about our search progress. That said, we will be unable to mention names, locations, or even the genders of our candidates.

I have a candidate or resource to suggest, how can I communicate with the committee?
Please feel free to e-mail any suggestions to
Otherwise, stop us at church and let us know! Just make certain we have a pen and paper handy.

Who are you, exactly, PNC members?
Betty Louis Sheppard (chair) -
Jeanne Marie Cummings -
Albert Johnson -
Julie Markham -
Cindy Moore -
Mitchell Redd - 
Jeremy Sykes -
Jeff Thompson -

How can we help?
Apart from sending us suggested candidates or resources, we invite you to pray for:
1) our church as we enter a season of change,
2) our committee as we speak with candidates, and
3) the candidates as they discern whether they have been called to Idlewild and continue serving in their current roles.

In Christ,

The Idlewild PNC

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Open congregation conversation session

The Pastor Nominating Committee invites the congregation to an open conversation session on Sunday, October 21 in the chapel following the 11:00AM worship service. All are invited to inform us about what qualities you may like to see in our next pastor. We are also interested in your vision of Idlewild's future.

We are sincerely grateful for the thoughtful suggestions, comments, and questions we have received in our listening sessions so far. You may have participated in a session already, perhaps in Sunday School, or in our conversations with staff and clergy, or in our exchanges with the diaconate and Session. 

Truly, these sessions have been conversations and not merely passive listening sessions. Because of time constraints (and possibly our own gregariousness), we may not have heard every voice. Perhaps you had more to say and did not have the opportunity, or perhaps you have given the future of Idlewild additional prayerful thought in the interim. Some may not have been able to participate at all. Whether you want to follow up on a prior conversation or speak with us for the first time, October 21st will be your opportunity to engage the PNC regarding our shared future. 

As you contemplate the work God will do at Idlewild under our next pastor, we encourage all to remember our vision statement, which has formed the foundation of the PNC's work thus far:

Idlewild Presbyterian Church is a community in which ...

Jesus Christ is the center; The mighty voice of God inspires us to love; the Spirit joyfully sustains and nurtures seekers of every age, stage and circumstance.

Worship forms the core of community life; prayer binds our brokenness and connects us in Christ's love to God and to one another; music, poetry and art flourish in gratitude to our Creator; the beauty of creation is treasured and preserved; all the members of the church are ministers.

The focus is scripture and its meaning for today; faith is formed and spirits nourished through reflection, practice and shared learning; the wisdom of other faith traditions is respected; and a diverse membership enriches and unites us. 

Justice speaks loudly and peace is our aspiration; all voices are heard; recreation and play are a wellspring for fellowship, celebration and growth; the love of God guides our minds and spirits, leading us to right action in our hearts, our homes, our community, our nation, and our world; and  

                                  all who enter find a home. 

Please continue to keep the PNC, the church, and the potential candidates in your prayers. We look forward to hearing from you on the 21st.

With gratitude and love,

The Idlewild Pastor Nominating Committee

Monday, September 10, 2018

The Idlewild Ministry Information Form

The Idlewild PNC is pleased to announce the final approval of our Ministry Information Form (MIF). The MIF has been submitted to the PC(USA)'s Church Leadership Connection system. We expect to begin receiving matches very soon, which means that we may have started reviewing candidate submissions by the time you read this update.

You can read the Idlewild MIF here. It is the result of dozens of hours of contemplation, prayer, discussion, and drafts by members of the PNC. We hope that you come away from reading the MIF and agree that it speaks to the essence of Idlewild. Our sincere goal during this portion of the process has been for the MIF to effectively represent the church by describing both who we are and what we stand for.

Thank you all for your prayers and suggestions. As we begin the second phase of our search, we ask for your continued prayer.

With affection and thanks,

The Pastor Nominating Committee

Monday, August 6, 2018

The Pastor Nominating Committee

L to R: Jeremy Sykes, Jeanne Marie Cummings, Jeff Thompson, Julie Markham, Albert Johnson, Betty Louis Sheppard, Mitchell Redd, Cindy Moore

Greetings from the Idlewild Pastor Nominating Committee

The Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) was elected by the congregation on May 20th, 2018 to call our next pastor/Head of Staff. Since that date, the PNC has been meeting regularly, and we are actively working toward securing Idlewild’s future following Steve Montgomery’s retirement in the Spring of 2019.

In the PC(USA), a PNC serves as a type of search committee, and it is our job to bring a pastor nominee to the congregation for your vote. Our PNC is made up of church members from different walks of life, and all us have distinct connections to both Idlewild and Presbyterianism. In the diversity of our perspectives but unity of our goal, we find strength and confidence in our direction.

The PNC’s first major task was to complete a Ministry Information Form (MIF), which is submitted to the denomination’s matching system following approval by the Session and Committee on Ministry. Potential candidates are matched to Idlewild by completing a Personal Information Form (PIF). In essence, the MIF is a job advertisement, and the PIFs are resumes or CVs. A suggested or recommended candidate would also submit a PIF just like a candidate who had been matched through the system. We sincerely appreciate the suggested candidate names we have received so far, and we encourage you to contact us with any additional potential candidates who might possess the gifts we need in a head of staff. We will be holding listening sessions at the church in the coming weeks, and we invite all church members to make their voices heard with the committee at these sessions.

The PNC takes the confidentiality of our work seriously. While we can discuss elements of process, we will be unable to discuss people. Thus, we ask for your trust and for your patience. We ask for you to trust the process, to trust the committee, and to trust God’s plan for the future of Idlewild.

We intend to provide regular updates on our progress on this page. Contact information for individual PNC members and for the committee as a whole can be found below. Please remember to include the PNC in your prayers. We look forward to hearing from you.


The Pastor Nominating Committee ( Betty Louis Sheppard, chair (
Jeanne Marie Cummings (
Albert Johnson (
Julie Markham (
Cindy Moore (
Mitchell Redd (
Jeremy Sykes (
Jeff Thompson ( On the web: